Digital Collections @ St. Lawrence University

Friend Darwin: I fear you will think me a very poor correspondent

Friend Darwin:  I fear you will think me a very poor correspondent
Friend Darwin:  I fear you will think me a very poor correspondent


P.A. Wells
P.A. Wells
Sunderland, Darwin
Chattanooga, TN
Original letter: ink on paper, 2 p.


Chattanooga Tenn, October 18th 1863
Friend Darwin:
I fear you will think me a very poor correspondent if I don’t write more regularly, but the fact is that I have been so busy since the late battle that I have somewhat neglected my  correspondence; and not till now have I had time to reply to your letter of Sept 22 received here on the 4th inst.                                                                                                                                      I have a very kind, good letter from your noble parents, written by your kind mother, a short time since, and have certainly read nothing more welcome in a long time.  You must thank your kind mother for me, Darwin, in one of your letters home; I could not sufficiently express my gratitude in mine.                                                                                                                                    The 11th and 12 corps of your army are here- I notice in their organization (eighteen?) N.Y. regiments.  We expect reinforcements from Grant every day; and soon will push ahead, drive the rebs out of Georgia and have railroad connection between Nashville and Savannah, complete.  We (our cavalry) have recently captured 2000 of rebel cavalry with 12 cannon and gave them a severe drubbing killing and wounding a large number.  The rebel Genl Wheeler with about 5000 cavalry crossed the river in the night with the intention of making an extensive raid a la John Morgan into (Tenn.?) but a division of our cavalry corps of Hoosiers followed, overtook, and soundly thrashed him, and we are still on his track.              
I hope your health still continues good.  There is nothing that promotes good health in the army more than cleanliness.  I have actually known hundreds to die of nastiness and I never knew a man to be attacked with a virulent or chronic diarrhea (and that is the soldiers greatest enemy) who used cold water and the sponge occasionally.  During the year that I was in the field with the regiment I was not sick a single day; but had I lain down and wallowed in the dirt as others did I should now like them be in an unknown grave.  You have too much good sense to think that I make any personal application here, but has a friend writing to a friend, I would say to you if you wish to preserve your health, and bring a sound mind and body home to the anxious friends who are watching and waiting for your return – bathe periodically and never drink any Army whiskey for there isn’t a constitution on earth that could stand the latter.  It may seem strange, but it is never the less true, that I drank more liquor in three months in civil life than I have during the 28 months I have been in the army.                                                                            You must not delay as long as I do in writing.  Fred Vandewaters wrote me lately – he is at school in Potsdam.  Emma also wrote me.  Charly Johnson is at school at the Falls.  There was, I understand, great elation at (Fenton’s?) marriage.  By the way I don’t much admire those “southern widows” you described so well in your letter.  They chew altogether too much snuff and eat too much day.  Pah! makes a fellow nearly sick.  I will write you at more length next time.  Believe me.
Very truly your friend,
P.A. Wells
Sent as usual


Rights Management: 
Original materials may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (more information).
Date Original (Precise): 
October 18, 1863


Digitization Specifications: 
Scanned at 600ppi on Epson 1000XL scanner as 48-bit RGB uncompressed TIFF images. Images resized to 960 pixels wide, 150 dpi, and saved as JPEG (level 10) in Photoshop CS5 with Unsharp Mask of 60:1.
Date Digital: 
October 4, 2011